by Sam Ferris
Kitchen Cabinet Remodel
Photo courtesy of Wellborn USA.
Every renovation is different, but for the stages homeowners go through, well, there are certainly some shared experiences. From the first realization that a renovation is needed to second guessing your decisions to adding a few wrinkles from stress, those who have done it before know there are distinct phases, for better or for worse, along the way. Here are the definitive five phases of home remodeling plus advice and tips on how to cope – or celebrate – with each stage. 

1. The "This is an eyesore" Phase
This is the point where everything you don’t like about your home starts to stick out like overgrown weeds.  

It could be a kitchen or bathroom space that’s too small, or a room that just isn’t functional enough for your family. But before you start ripping away at the roots, there are a few things to consider:
  • Which rooms most need a facelift. Maybe it’s several. Maybe it’s only one. Think about addressing your most pressing needs and how in-depth you want your renovation to be.
  • Why you’re remodeling. Remodeling is a solution. The best solution solves the biggest problems: lack of space, lack of function, dated cabinets and countertops, and so on.
  • One room at a time or all at once. There’s advantages to remodeling several rooms at once or fixing one at a time. For the former, you get all the dust and dirt over with at once – no remodeling 3-4 times over the span of two years. For the latter, you can save money while you wait to remodel your next room. Choose the approach that works best for you.
After these initial considerations, start researching. If you haven’t already, create a Houzz and Pinterest account to look for ideas and organize your wants and needs.

Oh, and don’t forget to take before pictures for memory’s sake and for social media sharing.

2. The "Do I want this or that?" Phase
The shopping phase is a headache for some and the best part of the process for others.

Regardless, at this stage of the process you’re shopping online, aka spending hours clicking through Houzz and Pinterest, browsing design ideas and creating ideabooks and boards that rival the largest physical photo album you own.

But before you start physically shopping, have a budget and a plan. Not having either is one of the biggest remodeling mistakes to avoid.

Depending on which room you’re remodeling, you’re going to have to decide on the following:
  • Flooring. Figure out the flooring type that’s at the top of your wish list, or which style best suits your home.
  • Backsplash. Kitchen remodels will certainly need a backsplash, and depending on the design, some bathrooms may, too.
  • Countertops. There are a lot of options available, but the big three are granite, quartz, and marble.
  • Cabinets. Any kitchens, bathrooms, bars, or office spaces will need new cabinets. You might consider cabinets for custom closets and storage solutions as well.
  • Appliances. From sinks and stoves to tubs and refrigerators, you'll need to make sure you account for it all.
  • Hardware. Don’t forget about the details. Hardware includes door knobs, cabinet door pulls, faucets, shower heads, drains, and more.
  • Contractors. You’re also shopping for the best woman to do the job. Research flooring stores and general contractors, or ask for a referral from family and friends.
Once you’ve selected all of your materials and meet with contractors, it’s time to compare estimates and decide who – and what – fits within your budget.

3. The "Should we really do this?" Phase
The truth is, it’s normal to second guess your decision to remodel. It’s a huge investment that affects your finances in some capacity, after all. 

Seeing the bottom line is like hitting your funny bone: there’s usually split-second shock involved (and a rush of pain, perhaps).

Don’t let the initial sting derail the months you’ve spent planning, though. Take a few deep breaths – and another look at all that’s outdated in your home – and move forward.

If the budget needs to be tweaked, tweak it. Choose less expensive materials. Cut out some of the labor (you can save money by doing some of the demo yourself, for instance).

Know that having doubts happens to just about every homeowner. It’s a part of the process, and it’s a phase you’ll chuckle at once you see the finished product. 

4. The "Will it ever get done?" Phase
When you haven’t been able to cook for two weeks and your floors are covered in dust and plastic instead of area rugs, you’re going to want out – literally and figuratively.

Like road trips, getting there seems like an eternity. While patience is the best way to pass the time, these tips can help with the stress:
  • Don’t remodel during the holidays. Really – don’t do it. Start before October rolls around or wait until after New Year’s. You won’t have to worry about entertaining guests with a messy house.
  • Book a hotel room or stay with family. If you’re doing major remodeling work and your home won’t be functional for several weeks, making alternative living arrangements can help you maintain some semblance of a day-to-day routine.
  • Focus on the progress. Yes, your house is a wreck. But the mess means you’re one step closer to being done. If certain things are done but not others, compare how your kitchen looks now to how it looked before you started. You’ll appreciate the difference.

5. The "Wow, it was worth it" Phase
Barring a catastrophe, no one ever regrets remodeling their home, and you won’t either. Life is easier, prettier, more functional, and more enjoyable in a freshly-renovated home.

Once the dust has settled and your renovations are complete, you’re going to bask in all the glory, whether it’s a bubble bath in your new freestanding tub or a sit-down meal at your island that now doubles as a kitchen table.

To soak in the total transformation, snap a few after shots and compare them to the before pictures you took. Share with family and friends to grab a few much-earned compliments. 

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